Quadrantid meteor shower 2022: What is it and where will I be best able to see annual display?

·2-min read
The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to be at peak on January 3 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)
The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to be at peak on January 3 (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Archive)

Lucky Londoners could see a dazzling meteor shower on Monday evening but they will need to quick to see the short-lived phenomenon.

If there are no clouds, residents in the capital could catch the Quadrantid meteor shower streaking across the sky tonight.

But what are the Quadrantids and how can you best see them?

What are they?

Every year, Earth briefly encounters the annual Quadrantid meteor shower in early January.

They are one of few annual showers that can produce up to 100 meteors an hour under ideal conditions.

They have been observed on dates between December 28 and January 12 but they peak every year in January.

When will you be able to see them this year?

The peak this year is estimated to be the night of January 3-4 and they are expected to be most visible around 9pm GMT.

Observers in the Northern Hemisphere should have the best visibility for the meteors.

Quadrantid meteors will appear to fan out from the Boötes constellation, near the ‘Big Dipper’.

This year’s visibility should be helped by the fact the new moon arrived on January 2, meaning relative darkness to observe meteors.

However, the meteors are best seen against a dark sky, and away from sources of light pollution, which may be a tricky task for some in the capital.

What will they look like?

The shower is known for its blue meteors and occasional “fireballs” or fine trains.

But according to the Royal Museums Greenwich, the peak of the Quadrantids is very short-lived and only several hours long.

This means the rate of meteors could drop dramatically within a short period of time by as much as 50 per cent in a few hours.

They were thought to have evolved away from the observable part of an old meteoroid stream but in 2004, astronomer Peter Jenniskens concluded the parent body could be the minor planet 2003 EH1.

When are other showers in 2022?

If you miss the annual shower or can’t see it, other annual showers include the Lyrids which is set to peak on April 22.

The Eta Aquariids should follow with a peak display on May 6. These are known for being quite low in the sky.

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